The words kind of jump out at you as you scroll across the Vancouver Sun website page ...
Patient Dies ... Prince Rupert Hospital ... Health Authorities confirm ... continuing police investigation
All of it from over a year ago, none of it known publicly in the community that it happened in and only now coming to light after some diligent reporting by Keith Fraser at the Vancouver paper.
The focus for the story is an incident at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital from November 5th 2021, which as the reporting in the Sun notes, saw one elderly patient having died after suffering an injury from a violent incident at the hands of another patient.
The Sun sourced its story from someone in the health care field and had the incident confirmed by Northern Health and the Prince Rupert RCMP.
The Northern Health Statement for the Vancouver paper was but a short few lines.“We regret that this tragic situation occurred, and our sincere sympathy and thoughts continue to be with the family and caregivers,”
The RCMP response was not much more than no charges have been laid and the incident remains under investigation.
The Sun story, also recounts some other concerning incidents of thefts and assaults; alleged as having taken place by the patient that reportedly caused the death of the elderly patient.
Those similar types of incidents have been areas of note province wide and recently spurred on the recent push for increased security at provincial hospitals.
The full Sun Story with expanded details related to the incident is available here.
What's concerning locally is the lack of any information from Northern Health from November 5, 2021 to the publishing of the story yesterday.
Other than the brief statement to the Vancouver Newspaper to confirm the death, there has been nothing shared locally for the residents of the region to make them aware of the tragic death, or towards any concerns over security at the hospital for staff and patients.
That despite the range of communication options that Northern Health has in house, from a website to a strong social media presence in all of their communities.
The incident of note from the Sun is something that Northern Health Officials should address for the public, with some kind of extensive explanation as to why they chose not to share that information.
Patient privacy is important, but also just as important, is to be upfront with those who may use the facility and those who work there as to what Northern Health does to ensure safety.
Safety at hospitals was a topic that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice referenced in November of 2022, though that was related to a different incident, which may give one cause to wonder how much staff at the hospital have to deal with as part of their duties.
Ms. Rice now serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health, so the topic of ensuring for safety at rural hospitals may be one for her to take on as part of her new duties.
One of the most concerning elements of Health Care in the region, is the perception in the community that Health Authorities often keep important information from the public and don't feel that a need for a more informative communication exchange is necessary.
Providing what information they can with legal issues in mind, as well as to outline how they have addressed the incidents described by the Sun, is something that Northern Health should have done in November 2021 and is far past due now.
Beyond that, what is needed now is for a full review and public account of the events to be delivered by the Health Authority.
That to at least offer some reassurance for those who work at their facilities and those who attend them as patients or visitors that all is being done towards safety.
The notes that Northern Health does choose to share with the public can be reviewed from our archive pages.
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